HC Deb 27 May 1946 vol 423 cc835-7
Mr. Oliver Stanley

May I ask the Lord President of the Council whether he is in a position to make a statement on Business?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I have a rearrangement of Business to announce in regard to Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, 29th May—Conclusion of the Report stage of the National Insurance Bill, which we hope to obtain by about 7 o'clock. Afterwards we shall consider the Motion relating to Members' Salaries and Expenses, and take the Second Reading of the Ministerial Salaries Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Thursday, 30th May—Third Reading of the National Insurance Bill, and Motion to approve the Purchase Tax Exemption (No. 2) Order. If there is an opportunity on Wednesday or Thursday, we hope it may be possible to obtain the Second Reading of the British Museum Bill [Lords] and Committee and remaining stages of the Licensing Planning Bill [Lords].

Mr. Stanley

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to be in a position to make any further statement about food, in view of the announcement from Washington on Friday?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. I shall be very happy to make an announcement, when things are cleared up between London and Washington.

Mr. Bowles

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it will be possible to discuss logically both the Motion relating to Members' salaries and the Second Reading of the Bill to increase Ministerial sala- ries; whether there can be a Debate on the general issue, and the Second Reading be taken formally?

Mr. Morrison

That is a matter for Mr. Speaker. So far as the Government are concerned it would appear to us, subject to the views of Mr. Speaker, that it would be convenient if the Debate could be treated as a whole.

Hon. Members


Earl Winterton

Surely, they are two entirely different issues. May I suggest that we are getting into the habit of making all sorts of Rules to suit some sections of the House who want to air a grievance, and many of us on this side of the House object to that?

Mr. Morrison

It is entirely a matter for Mr. Speaker.

Earl Winterton

It is not a matter for Mr. Speaker—not a bit.

Mr. Morrison

The Noble Lord is not the Speaker, neither am I. I am only trying to express, from the Government point of view, what would appear to us to meet the general convenience of the House. Often these requests come from the Opposition — precisely similar requests. Having said that, I humbly submit the Government's point of view, and I say again that the decision in the matter is entirely for Mr. Speaker.

Earl Winterton

On a point to Order, Mr. Speaker. I suggest, with great respect, that invariably you, or your predecessor, when there has been a desire to have a breach of the Rules, have asked if that would meet with the approval of the House. In no case has it ever been suggested that a decision to ignore the Rules is entirely a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. I suggest that you have to have the consent of both sides of the House.

Mr. Speaker

I consider that both the right hon. Gentlemen are on the whole correct. I could not possibly give a Ruling which would, break the Rules, unless I had the general consent of the House; and when that has been done, I have always made it perfectly clear that it must not be taken as a precedent. Subject to that, if the House so desires, I think that it may be convenient to debate both together, and between now and then, I shall no doubt hear the views of hon. Members.

Professor Savory

Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is proposed to take the agreement on Eire on Friday?

Mr. Morrison

There was some idea about a food Debate on Friday, which the Government are willing to have if the House wishes it. It may be that, in the light of further information, that will not be desired, in which case we should be open to suggestions from the Opposition, through the usual channels, as to what alternative should take its place. I do not think that I ought to decide, because Friday being a Supply Day, it is eminently a matter for the Opposition.

Mr. Stanley

It will be impossible to decide about a food Debate on Friday until we have a further statement from the right hon. Gentleman, the date of which he is not able to announce. For convenience, I can say that the Opposition, failing a food Debate, would ask for a Debate upon the Aviation Agreement.

Mr. Morrison

I am very much obliged, and we will do everything we can to meet their convenience

Mr. Charles Williams

Am I right in understanding that there is some sort of trouble about food, at the present time?

Mr. Morrison

I gather that there is, so far as the Opposition and the Conservative Press of the country are concerned. They seem to be working themselves up into a state of complete neurosis on the question

Mr. Nicholson

Is it proper for the Lord President of the Council to treat so serious a matter in such a flippant manner? [Interruption.] Is he not aware that millions of people may die?

Mr. Morrison

If I may say so, that is what I had in mind last Thursday, when I suggested to the Leader of the Opposition that this was eminently a matter which might be lifted above party politics.